11-19-2020 History

May 18, 1994

Remembering your great-grandmother Matilda Kaucher

This is in the form of a letter to a young lady whose picture I saw in the Record a few weeks ago. At the same time, I think of it as a challenge to all young people to take every opportunity to learn about your ancestors. They help to identify you. As you read you’ll see why I write to Betsy Kaucher, who was crowned, along with Mike Barbee, as Coloma High School’s Winterfest Royalty in March. Hope you all enjoy someone else’s mail occasionally.

Dear Betsy,

Your picture in the Record set me thinking of a dear lady, your great-grandmother, I believe, who died before you were born. You may not remember me at all, although our paths did cross when we both participated in the sesquicentennial drama “Shingle Diggin’s Came First.” You were just a small girl at the time and took a part as one of the pioneer children who were the earliest settlers of Single Diggin’s. The thought came to me, at that time, how proud your great-grandmother would have been of you. This time I thought about my four great-grandmothers, none of whom I had the privilege of knowing. And I wished that I had learned something more about them. Why didn’t I quiz some of the older people around who might have had some stories. I prize one clipping I happened to find of Ann Riggin Stark’s obituary filled with praises for her thoughtfulness of neighbors and service to friends, and I’ve always kept it in mind that I’d like to deserve that glowing a tribute when I die. (Obituaries in former days usually gave more than facts as they do today.)

Anyway, I decided that perhaps you would enjoy hearing about my association with Mrs. Ernest Kaucher, Matilda, your great-grandmother. She lived with her husband where I think you still live, about a half-mile from Coloma city limits on Red Arrow Highway. Theirs was the first farm you came to at that time. Verda and S.L. McDaniels built one closer-in later. There were no stores or businesses. I walked weekly, carrying music books, from the schoolhouse on Leedy Street to her home for piano lessons. I wasn’t the most enthusiastic student at first, because my friends took lessons from Marjorie Furman. Well, she was most everybody’s piano teacher in those days. But my mother wanted me to go to Matilda Kaucher, because they were friends.

Matilda came here from Germany after World War I and married Ernest, who was already living on that farm. There was a residue of prejudice toward those who had been during the war years in Germany. I don’t remember how Mom, Mabel, and Matilda first met but I know Mom was a self-appointed committee of one to help her find a place in the community, inviting and escorting her to Self-Culture Club meetings and school and church.

When she found that Mrs. Kaucher had been a piano teacher in Germany, she saw another way to help her become a part of the community; hence, my foray into the world of piano. To say that I became a great musician after several years of lessons with this good teacher would be stretching the truth considerably, but there were more important things I learned … first, music appreciation. The great masters were her friends and she would often play as I listened. Second, the character and wisdom which she imparted influenced my life far beyond those few years.

One Christmas, she helped make a piano bench cover for my mom. I kept it at her house so it could be a real surprise.

One example of her thoughtful advice stands out in my mind, as it happened years later after my marriage and World War II. Since a college German course (partly inspired by her), I’d had a German pen pal named Lydor (can’t remember the last name) but we had lost touch years before. During that first year after World War II, I received a letter from her, forwarded from Blackburn College where I’d attended. My German being rusty, I took the letter to Mrs. Kaucher for translation help. The letter was a desperate plea for food essentials, soap, and wearing apparel. She lived in East Germany and sounded suspiciously supportive of Hitler. At least she had a doctorate in eugenics, which is the study of improving the race by careful parental selection. So I asked Mrs. Kaucher, “Do you think she deserves our help?”

“Dorothy,” she said, “when people are hurting and hungry we do not need to ask if they are deserving. It is not our responsibility to judge, only to help. Could you live with yourself if you refused?”

The last time I saw her was in a Buchanan area nursing home. She did not make me feel guilty for neglecting her for many years. She simply said, “Dorothy, you have brought much happiness to my day. Thanks for coming.” I am grateful, Betsy, that I took piano-plus lessons from your great-grandmother. Best wishes,

Dorothy Cannell

Watervliet District Library news

Library curbside service continues until further notice for the following hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Monday and Wednesday evening, 4 – 7 p.m. Faxing, copying and printing can also be handled curbside. Computer use is available by appointment for necessary services during those times.

Packet projects

Packet projects are distributed every week for the following participants: Toddlers, first week of the month; elementary-aged students, second week; teens and young adults, third week; adult Pinteresting packets are available the last week of each month. Supplies are limited; registration is highly suggested.

Third Monday Book Club

The Third Monday Book Club will meet on Nov. 23 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. The link will be posted on the library’s Facebook page. This month’s book, “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”, is available on line and through the library. Contact the library at 269-463-6382, info@wdlib.org or message staff through Facebook for more details.

Coloma Public Library news

Masks and social distancing are required at the Coloma Public Library. For patrons medically unable to wear masks, the library has set aside Tuesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. for safe visiting. Curbside services also continue to be available. Reach staff at 269-468-3431, through Facebook Messenger, or emailing to readcoloma@gmail.com.

Virtual tutoring service

The library offers Tutor.com for online tutoring, homework help, and test preparation for kindergarten through 12th grade, plus early college students, and adult learners. Any Coloma Public Library card holder can connect with an expert tutor in a safe and secure online classroom. Contact the library for more information.

Book Sale

The Book Sale at the library is now available by appointment for up to two shoppers at a time. Appointments will be accepted based on staff time and availability.


100 years ago – 1920

Thanksgiving in Hartford will be observed with a union service of the churches at the Christian Church. The annual Thanksgiving address will be delivered by Rev. J.H. Rayle of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a special musical program will be given by the union choirs.

Miss Adalyn Humphrey is moving her millinery store to the rooms over the J.H. Conrad hardware store for the winter. S.L. Johnston, who recently purchased the store building occupied by Miss Humphrey, will move his billiard hall to that location. The Hartford Gleaners’ cooperative organization recently purchased the A. Martin building to be vacated by the Johnston billiard hall.

Genuine winter has set in early. Last week’s snowfall remained on the ground and was increased by three inches of snow Sunday night. Sleighs made their first appearance Saturday.

75 years ago – 1945

Hartford’s newest furniture and utility store, the Wank Furniture and Appliance Mart, is located at Main and N. Center streets across from the bank. The main floor will be devoted to displays of furniture, paint and wallpaper. The balcony will be used for bedroom furniture and an adjoining second floor for floor coverings. An entire section adjoining the main floor has been set aside for appliances. The store will sell national brands of electric, gas and oil appliances, wallpaper and O’Brien paints. First meeting of the Southwest Hartford Thursday Club this season featured a luncheon at the Hartford Hotel. Mrs. David Friday, retiring president opened the session. Following roll call, Mrs. Otto Stanhiser gave a humorous reading. Members voted to furnish cookies for the January birthday party at Percy Jones hospital and to make several quilts for the Red Cross.

50 years ago – 1970

Mrs. Bertha Matthews will entertain the Southwest Hartford Thursday Club at her home. Mrs. Grace Schriner will be in charge of the social hour. Eugene Ramsey will be the guest speaker.

Pvt. Gary Stoddard, son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Stoddard is taking basic army training at Fort Knox, KY.

There are openings for boys ages 8 and 9 to join the Cub Scouts. Boys may contact George Huffman Jr., Cubmaster.

Kenneth Willer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Willer, recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Central Michigan College. Submitted by Librarian Stephanie Daniels at Hartford Public Library from microfilm copies of the Hartford Day Spring.

Hours: Mon 10am-6pm; Tue-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 10am-2pm. Phone: 269-588-5103


90 years ago – 1930

The Commission has decided to confine the Yuletide decorations this year to colored lighting effects on the curb light system because there is no safe location for a municipal Christmas tree. Main Street is a part of the state highway system and has no right to place an obstruction in the highway without permit. In 1929, request for such permit was denied but the local authorities put the tree up anyway. This tree was run into by a motor vehicle. The 1930 city administration will not assume the risk of placing a Christmas tree in the street again.

Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Hentschel are the parents of a baby boy, born Dec. 2, 1930 at the family home.

60 years ago – 1960

Watervliet’s Main Street will not look or seem the same with the old red brick Pierce residence gone. That house had been in the Pierce family for more than 80 years until the property was purchased in July 1959 by Mr. and Mrs. Francis Rogel. It is now in the